Importance of The Fingertips to Rotator Cuff Exercises

In my mentorship I use a lot of closed chain upper limb exercises linking the fingertips, forearm flexors, elbow, shoulder, and scapula together and I’m not a big fan of isolating particular tissues in open chain. That’s not to say there’s no value in open chain, and I have great respect for any therapist that uses these exercises so long as they are indicated.

If you do use these exercises a lot, I think there are a couple of things you can do to get the most out of these exercises. The biggest ‘cheats’ I see on a daily basis with these exercises is either the patient extending at the wrist, or retracting the shoulder girdle engaging much more rhomboid than cuff.

In function, when we usually engage the cuff is usually when we grip something. So to get the most out of this exercise I feel we need the intent through the fingertips. If the patient has intent through the fingertips it makes a big difference to cuff activation. Usually the grip is passive through this exercise, and the patient uses a lot of the wrist extensors and scap muscles to be successful. By putting the intent back to the grip, the cuff gets a lot more stimulus.

Watch the video above to see the difference in how Shane performs this exercise when I ask him to get intent through the fingertips.

As usual, any questions get in touch!


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About The Author

Dave O'Sullivan

Dave O’Sullivan, Chartered Physiotherapist with a master’s in Strength and Conditioning, worked as a sports physio for the Wallabies Rugby Union team (2023 World Cup), England Rugby Union (2019 World Cup) and England Rugby League (2017 World Cup). He built a leading clinic in Huddersfield, UK, and developed a unique step-by-step approach with his own sporting and non sporting patients.

Dave now teaches his methods globally and has helped over 1,000 physiotherapists and other health professionals, giving them confidence and clarity to help patients who have failed traditional approaches.